Rolling back government would help people regain their independence

TRACKSIDE © by John D’Aloia Jr.

August 3, 2004

TRACKSIDE last described New Zealand government reform actions as reported by Maurice P. McTigue in an article entitled "Rolling Back Government" printed in the April 2004 Imprimis, published by Hillsdale College. TRACKSIDE space limitations prevented relating other actions taken by the New Zealand government.

The reformers believed that subsidies make people dependent, dependent people lose their ingenuity, and dependent people become more dependent. McTigue’s example was sheep farming. Lamb was selling for $12.50 per carcass on the market and the taxpayers were kicking in another $12.50 per. In a one-year period, the government pulled the plug on the subsidy. Sheep ranchers put their heads together and developed a product that, within four years, brought $30 per carcass. By 1999 the price was $115 per carcass. It was forecast that eliminating the subsidy would result in corporate farming eradicating family farms. The opposite happened - corporate farms declined and family farming expanded. Inside the beltway, are you listening?

The New Zealand educational system was failing. More and more money was poured into the system while achievements headed south. McTigue said "It cost us twice as much to get a poorer result than we did 20 years previously with much less money." They found that only 30 cents of every education dollar reached the classroom. (The educrats were well fed.) They eliminated all Boards of Education, and placed each of 4,500 schools under the control of a board of trustees elected by the parents of students at the school. They gave each school a bag of money based on the number of students with no strings attached to the bag. They did not stop with the public schools. They also gave the private schools the same bag of money, allowing parents to choose which schools got the money for their children. Within 18 months, the large achievement disparity between public and private schools evaporated as teachers were empowered to teach - and realized that without students in their classrooms, they would be without employment. Within three years, New Zealand students went from being 14 or 15 percent below their international peers to 14 or 15 percent above them in academic performance. Inside the beltway, are you listening? In Topeka, are you listening?

Every one who has had an encounter of a close kind on a highway with a deer and farmers will like the New Zealand approach to managing deer. For 120 years, New Zealand tried to eliminate deer, loosed on the land when they were imported by the English for hunting. The deer were an invasive species - keep that term in mind for it is another ecofascist story. The reformers authorized farmers and ranchers to farm the deer if they could catch them and keep them behind eight foot high fences. Voila! The government has spent not one cent since on deer eradication and New Zealand has 40 percent of the world’s venison market. In Topeka, are you listening? I think not - several sessions ago, a Kansas citizen brought a somewhat similar idea to the dome and was scarcely given the time of day. Why? A private market solution is a direct threat to the entrenched bureaucracy which exists on the concept that government owns the state’s wild animals. If private citizens can own and manage wild animals, rangers, wardens, and offices in Topeka are superfluous baggage.

I wish McTigue had a bit of influence in Topeka. Not only is Kansas the "High Tax Point on the Prairie", we have the honor of having the largest increase in bonded indebtedness (333 percent) of any state in the Union for the period 1999 to 2002. A recent AP article noted this depressing fact- and the fact that the state did not slow down in issuing bonds after 2002. By June 2005, the state will have $3.71 billion in bonds, equating to a per person debt of $1,352.00. In a July 13 Op-Ed, Kansas State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins described the situation, noted that the per capita debt in Nebraska is but $43.00, and expressed her concerns about the state mortgaging the future. For the pleasure of being able to spend wildly above our means, our legislators are transferring the day of reckoning to the future - Jenkins stated that "[It] will take our children years to recover." At what point does the debt structure engulf the state and its economy? At the rate we are going, sooner rather than later. I wonder why such a systemic and potentially disastrous problem is not discussed on the campaign trail. It is a good question for the next candidate forum.

See you Trackside.



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